(4) - Reconstructing Local Communities in Transitional Borderlands: Governance and Social Organization of the Kumarcin, 1900-1940
Friday, March 22
11:15 AM - 1:00 PM
Location: Grand Ballroom 1, Tower Bldg., 2nd Level
This paper explores proto-ethnic and pre-minzu socio-cultural identities of the Kumarcin
(Ch. Kuma’erchen), a non-Han Chinese group generally identified as ethnic Orochen (Elunchun), from 1900 to 1930 by concentrating on the region-specific continuity of governance and social organization based upon but also adapted from Qing-period institutions of community leadership and welfare. By tracing the networks of leadership among the Kumarcin from a banner to village-centered administration and how village political and social institutions developed from banner ones, I contribute to the place-based history of the Kumar River and Pangu River in Heilongjiang (province), which is where the Kumarcin were settled during the late nineteenth century. My paper ties in with Akira Yanagisawa’s work on the development of ethnic identities in Heilongjiang due to migration because the Kumarcin adopted a place-based identity. I also share common ground with Jinxin Qi’s investigation about how employment as regional and local officials shaped social identities and Yingzi Wang’s examination of how policies in the late Qing fostered the continuation of customary governance while broad reforms were implemented. Through this particular study as a representative case, I argue that the history of China’s northeastern borderland peoples during the first three decades of the twentieth century must be examined critically for evidence about their identities which is not dominated by narratives of nationalism that are generally unquestioned as the major paradigms of analyzing that time period.